I have spent much of my life with a competitive and comparative mindset. I played a professional sport at a young age and had this attitude driven into my brain. In fact, I remember being told by one of the coaches, to win at all costs, even if you must cheat! With such a strong competitive attitude drilled into me, I became hyper aware of how I compared to others. What I found was, when you compare yourself to others, you will always come up short. There is always someone fitter, more talented, wealthier, more successful, and better in every area. True happiness and success will come to you when you realise the only one in the game is you.
I was terrified every year for my seven years of professional sport at the St Kilda Football Club, because at the start of each new season, a new batch of extremely talented footballers would be invited to come try out. As I looked at their skills and compared them with mine, I knew I was a goner. Interestingly, each season, I stayed and those with more talent than me didn’t make it. Why I stayed, I will get back to later in this blog because I actually surprised myself with my attitude as a young and pretty immature kid.
I have spent most of my life in comparison mode. Let me tell you, if you don’t already know, it is exhausting and futile. I wanted to work harder, be fitter, look better and do more than other people, for one reason and one reason only. That reason was to be acknowledged, accepted, validated, and admired. It didn’t work, as I never felt any of those things, even though I played professional football, developed an impressive body, was super fit and became a best-selling author. Why? Because I was looking outside of myself for answers that were only inside of me. As I looked around, I always saw better footballers, fitter people, better physiques and more prolific authors. The moment I stopped looking at everyone else and realised the only person in the game is me, things changed dramatically. And they will for you too.
Great Australian swimmer, Kieren Perkins, swam 1500m in three consecutive Olympic Games, winning two gold medals and a silver. By his own admission, when he started swimming, he was terrible. His astronomical success came for one reason and one reason only. Every time he got in the pool to compete, he only ever competed against one thing; his last previous best time. He never worried about other swimmers, he only focused on his own best performance. It was that attitude that propelled him to be one of the most celebrated athletes in Australian Olympic history.
What are you looking around at? Who are you comparing yourself too? Who are you competing with that you can never beat? There is very common swimming term, that encourages swimmers to stay in their own lane. In other words, stop looking at what the other swimmers are doing as it is just a distraction. The same applies for you and me. The more I looked around trying to compare, the worse I felt and the more tempted I was to give up saying, I can’t do it or I am not good enough. When you focus on yourself, and personal improvement, let me tell you, anything is possible.
Getting back to my days as a young professional athlete, the only reason I lasted for seven years when many far more talented footballers came and went was twofold. Firstly, they clearly didn’t have the attitude or work ethic to make it at the highest level. Secondly, I just intuitively knew that I couldn’t compete with them at a talent level, but I could work harder and focus on personal improvement. In other words, I had to be the only one in the game. The moment I removed others from the equation, life was easier, more fulfilling and I achieved more.
I had a wonderful conversation with former Australian Netballer and great friend Susan Meaney on my podcast this week, called Life is not a competition. She was focused, driven and competitive and hence she played her sport at the highest level. One of the things she has learned, as she is now the mother of four beautiful children, is that the only one in the game is her, and there is not longer any need to compete or compare with others. It is a wonderful podcast I encourage you to listen to.
I am very proud as I have recently published my eighth book, TEARS of Joy. Let me tell you, I was not a writer when I decided to become an author for the first time, that is for sure. In fact, I was the furthest from being an author than most authors ever were. However, I knew that I could share my passion with a real desire to help others and I knew, if I just played my own game, without any comparison to others, I could do it. I did, and I am very excited about my new book. Anything is possible for you, if you remember that the only one in the game is you.